Thanksgiving is over and it’s time to shift into Christmas gear! In Tampa, you know it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas when packed highways are the norm long after regular commute hours, and weekend driving is nightmarish. Because we provide a huge selection of both big box stores and local boutiques and businesses, our city is a major attraction for holiday shoppers. Thanks to the influx of people (and cars), areas around the Selmon Expressway were a big problem for Hillsborough County drivers in the past, but new “slip ramps” are here to save your commute this season!
What are slip ramps?
Slip ramps are, essentially, a tool for bypassing traffic in busy areas by letting drivers “skip” to a different road. Tampa’s new slip ramps, just opened by the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) are set up to make getting to the reversible express lanes on the upper deck of the Selmon Expressway easier.
These lanes function by diverting traffic to the upper deck of the expressway, easing congestion in troublesome areas like Falkenburg Rd, US 301, and the I-4 Connector. By letting drivers directly access the upper deck (which utilizes the same tolls), traffic balances out and prevents serious jams during busy parts of the day. Less congestion means fewer accidents, and that means faster travel for Tampa residents and tourists.
How will these new slip ramps help with Tampa’s traffic?
There are two new slip lanes near Selmon Expressway. One is located near I-75 and the other is near the Ikea on 22nd St. Transportation authorities pinpointed these areas as logical places to divert imbalanced expressway traffic and better manage rush hour (and busy shopping weekends!) in Tampa Bay. Construction started in January 2022 and is finally complete, with the new lanes opening ahead of schedule this month.
The slip ramps are actually multi-purpose for solving some of Tampa’s traffic issues. These lanes mitigate traffic concerns in the areas mentioned above, but cut-through traffic in local neighborhoods will (hopefully) lessen as well. This will not only make neighborhoods easier to navigate for residents, school bus drivers, etc. but will also make these residential areas safer for pedestrians.
The slip ramps are sure to assist daily commuters on their trek to and from work, but we forsee benefits for this year’s holiday shoppers as well!
How can I avoid the worst holiday shopping traffic?
The slip ramps are a great way to avoid getting stuck when navigating Tampa…and you’ll enjoy a beautiful skyscape as a bonus!
“We encourage you to try it and see if it works for you. It’s a convenient way to get on that upper deck that in many ways, has the best view in Tampa. And then you can jump on the main line Expressway.” Gregory Slater, THEA CEO
If you find yourself headed to a shopping district where these slip lanes won’t help, don’t panic! You can still avoid long hours of sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic if you plan ahead.
Some of our top tips for avoiding traffic as you Christmas shop in Tampa include:
Shop during off hours.
Obviously, weekends are the most popular time for Christmas shopping. If possible, avoid doing your holiday errands on Saturday or Sunday, and opt for a weekday instead. If you’re trying to avoid rush-hour traffic or don’t want to share the stores with hundreds of other commuters, try grabbing a few gifts on your lunch break, or do an early morning shopping run before you head to the office. Just make sure to lock those gifts out of sight in your trunk!
Make a plan and stick to it!
You waste time traveling back and forth to stores (sometimes more than once) trying to find the perfect item for everyone on your list. Instead of jumping into Christmas shopping without a plan, strategize who you need to buy for, what you’ll be purchasing, and where you can find it before you leave home. Set up your shopping trip by starting at one end of the city and working toward the other, so you avoid backtracking and prevent wasting time and gas. You’ll check lots of gifts off your list if you follow a plan!
Utilize malls and shopping centers.
Much like the above tip, shopping with a plan in place is easy at a local mall! You could choose a traditional mall like International Plaza with stores, restaurants, and entertainment all under one roof. Likewise, you could opt for an open-air mall like The Shops at Wiregrass. Large numbers of stores concentrated in one localized area make checking off your list easy. One drive, one parking spot, and ALL of your shopping in one place? We’d call that a Christmas win.
Use back roads when possible.
While tourists are at the mercy of their GPS, Tampa residents know the ins and outs of the area. There are many back roads that help drivers avoid traffic and reach their destination faster. Familiarizing yourself with these alternate routes is a great way to speed up your holiday shopping. You also avoid the headaches and stress that come with navigating the major roads. If you do choose to take back roads, be mindful of slower speed limits, school bus stops, and pedestrian crossings!
Avoid major holiday events.
Christmas parades, visits from Santa, holiday concerts…Tampa is bustling at this time of year. If you plan to Christmas shop, it’s worth looking ahead at what’s going on in your area. Hitting downtown on the morning of the annual Christmas parade is a sure way to get stuck in heavier-than-usual traffic. The mall parking lot will certainly be more crowded when Santa is on site and parking lot collisions are possible. Avoiding these popular times means you avoid road congestion (and the accidents that come with it.)
I got in an accident while Christmas shopping. Help!
It’s inevitable…accidents happen when traffic is heavy. Some common accidents we see during the holidays are:
- parking lot collisions (both pedestrian and vehicular)
- distracted driving accidents
- DUI accidents
- accidents due to nighttime driving
All of these are preventable, but many drivers act irresponsibly and their mistakes could impact YOU. Were you injured in an accident while holiday shopping in Tampa? We regularly communicate with victims who have been injured due to reckless or negligent actions of other drivers. If you or someone you love is suffering following a recent car accident in Tampa Bay, the team at Brooks Law Group is here to help. We represent those who can’t stand for themselves, and we fight for the justice and compensation you deserve. Schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced and compassionate lawyers and let us take the burden of your case off your shoulders so you can focus on what matters this Christmas.
Don’t let an accident ruin the magic of the season for you and your family. When you’ve been in a car accident, you can always Look to Brooks for the representation you need.